Dundee 0-3 Hibs: Neil Lennon’s side way too sharp for downcast Dundee

Thomas Agyepong bamboozles two Dundee defenders who can only watch as the Ghanaian makes it 3-0. Picture: SNS Group
Thomas Agyepong bamboozles two Dundee defenders who can only watch as the Ghanaian makes it 3-0. Picture: SNS Group
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This felt a bit like the football equivalent of rubber-necking as the problems, mishaps and wafer-thin self-belief in this Dundee side all piled up to deliver another bruising defeat and leave under-pressure manager Neil McCann staring into the abyss.

It was a pretty familiar tale – promising start but no breakthrough or good fortune followed by an evaporation of confidence and then a slew of clinically taken goals to finish them off.

Florian Kamberi, scorer of the first goal, is congratulated by Neil Lennon. Picture: SNS Group

Florian Kamberi, scorer of the first goal, is congratulated by Neil Lennon. Picture: SNS Group

Hibs were not at their best in this game, but as is so often the case against struggling opposition, they didn’t have to be. A three-minute and two-goal burst just after the break was all it took for Neil Lennon’s men to effectively wrap this one up – for much of the rest of the game they were comfortably within themselves. If that wasn’t ignominious enough for the despairing home support the second of the visitors’ goals was dispatched into the net by Martin Boyle, once of these parts, and a player who has hit a level of consistency and effectiveness way beyond what he ever did in a dark blue jersey. When Thomas Agyepong rolled home number three with a couple of minutes remaining, the visiting fans predictably taunted McCann with a chorus of “sacked in the morning”.

“I feel we’re working under pressured circumstances,” observed McCann when asked about the growing speculation over his future. “I’m not going to hide from that – I know we’re on a bad, bad run.”

“I’ll deal with the pressure. You take a job in management, you have to deal with the ups and downs,” he continued. “I’m not the type of guy who’s going to be frightened of that challenge. You come into work and just keep working hard.

“Unfortunately the guys are just playing with that lack of confidence – I can’t give them that, they’ve got to earn it, but they’ve still got my belief.”

Joy for Kamberi and Stevie Mallan as Hibs open the scoring. Picture: SNS Group

Joy for Kamberi and Stevie Mallan as Hibs open the scoring. Picture: SNS Group

Typical of the script in these situations Dundee actually opened with a flurry of attacking activity to send out a signal of positive intent and defiance. In fairness they weren’t that far away from securing McCann’s much coveted wish to see his side take the lead in a game rather than chase a deficit as Adil Nabi came mighty close to putting them ahead after just a couple of minutes. A quick flowing move saw him stroke a well-angled shot goalwards and it took a full length diving save from Adam Bogdan to turn it round the post for a corner.

The midfielder went close again a couple of minutes later as Hibs appeared a tad lethargic and afforded their opponents far too much space down the left in particular. Eventually however the visitors got going and started to regularly carve themselves openings through a distinctly brittle-looking Dundee rearguard.

Florian Kamberi really ought to have made better contact on a couple of teasing crosses that came his way, while a headed effort by Daryl Horgan had the power but not the direction – in truth the Irishman should have buried it past Elliott Parish. A short while later Parish earned his spurs however with a splendid reflex block on Steven Mallan’s close-range drive.

Dundee were already hanging on as the interval approached but there was a collective gasp from both sets of supporters as Kharl Madianga toppled over in the Hibs box under a challenge. Perhaps if the fates were smiling more kindly on the beleaguered Dens Park outfit it might have been deemed a penalty – but not so in the eyes of match referee Andrew Dallas who held aloft a yellow card to punish the midfielder for simulation.

If that was frustrating it was nothing compared to the bleakness that descended upon the hosts immediately after the break. Hibs simply hit the accelerator and soon after the back of the Dundee net with a quick double salvo. Kamberi had already smashed a blistering effort off the post and Steven Whittaker prised another fine save out of Parish before the Swiss striker latched on to a through-ball from Mallan and gently rolled it home to break the deadlock. Three minutes later Boyle compounded the pain with a stinging angled shot that gave Parish no chance.

What happened thereafter was almost inconsequential – Dundee went down with barely an attacking whimper and it was just a question of whether Lennon’s men would help themselves to any more.

They did so right at the end as Agyepong finished a slaloming run with a low shot in the far corner of the net.

“It was one of the most complete performances I’ve had here as manager,” reflected Lennon.

“The second half performance – the control, the passing, the pace in the team and the quality of the finishing – everything I could have asked for I got.”